Hughie

Arches, Glasgow, Fri 2-Sat 17 Mar

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SCOTTISH PREMIERE

With his triple bill of Tennessee Williams shorts and Pinter’s Moonlight to his credit over the last couple of years, Andy Arnold has more than demonstrated his credentials with marginal texts by acclaimed authors. The latest such exercise is this obscure one-act play from Eugene O’Neill. We might expect Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Mourning Becomes Electra or The Iceman Cometh at our local reps, but Arnold, as ever, shows greater ambition.

Set in 1928, 14 years before its composition, it tells the story of Erie Smith, an aging gambler and wannabe man about town, who returns to his seedy New York hotel in the small hours of the morning to engage a disinterested desk clerk in conversation. Smith has been on a six-day bender after the death of the previous night clerk, and as his brief narrative unfolds, the sheer loneliness of a return to his room is deferred through extravagant, possibly apocryphal tales, of a life lived among big time gamblers and small time hoods. As the sounds of the streets echo from off, we might well be taken in by the attempt to make a link forged by the braggart and his laconic and unwilling companion.

Arnold’s track record with this kind of work, here featuring Benny Young and Neil Docherty in the leads, makes this a strong recommendation.

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